Archive for February 15th, 2016

Is the TPP really a leap forward for Malaysia?

Shankaran Nambiar
East Asia Forum
13 February 2016

Malaysia’s leadership must be extremely satisfied on two counts: their success in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the parliament’s favourable position on the agreement.

It is amazing that Malaysia has negotiated to preserve the Bumiputera agenda, obtain a minimum five-year grace period to reform state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and gain exemption for Khazanah from investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions for two years after the deal comes into force.

There were fears that the TPP would necessitate the dismantling of SOEs, prise open the government procurement market and cause the whittling down of the Bumiputera agenda. Those anxieties are unfounded. The TPP has turned out to be an agreement where the Malaysian government can have its cake and eat it too.

While maintaining the Bumiputera agenda may be a victory of sorts in the short term, it reduces the impetus for drastic economic reforms. The push towards greater private sector participation, in particular, will be further postponed. Economic efficiency may have been sacrificed in an effort to appease a significant domestic political constituency. The TPP negotiations presented a trade-off between obtaining political support for the agreement and striving to achieve efficiency and greater social welfare gains. It seems that the end result tilted in favour of the former. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mismanagement, waste, and corruption in Malaysia’s public universities

by Murray Hunter | 15th February 2016
Asian Correspondent

MALAYSIAN public universities have dropped in the Times Higher Education University Rankings over the last few years. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) made 87th position in 2013, but as of 2015, no Malaysian university made the top 100 Asian rankings.

Malaysian public universities have also shown mixed results in other rankings like the QS rankings, where three Malaysian universities had slight rises in their rankings, while Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), International Islamic Universiti Malaysia (IIUM), and Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), all slipped in rankings from previous years. No Malaysian university made the top 100. According to the QS ranking profiles, Malaysian universities have lost significant ground in academic reputation and tend to be weak in research, where no Malaysian university reached the top 400.

Public Universities Vice-Chancellor/Rector Committee chairman Dr. Kamarudin Hussin, who is also vice chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Perlis (Unimap) claims that the ranking methodologies favour older, more established universities. Yet many universities within the THES top 100 Asian universities were established relatively recently. Hong Kong University of Science and technology, ranked 7th, was established in 1980, Nanyang Technological University, ranked 10th, was set up in 1981, and Pohang University of Science and Technology, ranked 11th, was established in 1986.

When comparing performance to Malaysia’s neighbour, Thailand, King Mongkut’s University of Technology, established in 1960 made 55th place, and Mahidol University came in with a 91st placing.

In addition, a number of universities from countries which are not democratically governed like Sharif University of Technology (43, Iran), Isfahan University of Technology (61, Iran), Iran University of Science and Technology (69), King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (71, Saudi Arabia), and King Saud University (72, Saudi Arabia), all made the THES top 100 Asian university rankings last year.

Dr Kamarudin accepts that Malaysian universities have “many issues that must be resolved….(and) there are plenty of oversights that must be fixed”. However, unfortunately, he didn’t mention what they are, or offer any solutions. Read the rest of this entry »

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What other intellectual and mental prowess and feats are University of UMNO “graduates” capable of?

In the last two days, “graduates” of University of UMNO have been showing off their intellectual and mental prowess and feats.

The first was the new UMNO information chief, Tan Sri Annuar Musa who declared that the RM2.6 billion donation deposited into Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal banking account is “not a big sum” to face one general election.

Can Annuar share with ordinary Malaysians who do not have benefit of being ”graduates” of University of UMNO what would be “a big sum” to face one general election in Malaysia – RM50 billion, RM100 billion or RM200 billion?

Malaysia’s election laws stipulate that the maximum expenditure legally permissible for a parliamentary candidate is RM200,000 while the maximum legal expenditure for a State Assembly candidate is RM100,000.

With 222 Parliamentary seats and 505 State Assembly seats contested in the 13th General Elections, this meant that the maximum election expenditures permitted by Malaysian election laws came to RM44.4 million by all UMNO/BN’s 222 Parliamentary candidates and RM50.5 million by the 505 UMNO/BN State Assembly candidates, or a total of RM94.9 million – just short of RM100 million!

The RM2.6 billion “donation” to Najib is 26 times more than the legally permissible election expenditures for all the 222 Parliamentary and 505 State Assembly candidates from UMNO/Barisan Nasional.

But this is clearly only “chicken-feed” for fighting one general election as far as the new UMNO Information chief is concerned. Read the rest of this entry »

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